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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

Magnificent Movie Music: The Heartbeat of Film

Westerns: "A Steppe Is a Steppe!"

Weekend Lecture/Seminar

Sunday, November 7, 2021 - 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1K0156
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$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member
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Rachel Franklin

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"The marriage of the moving image and music is perhaps the most powerful visual communication we have.”—Director Norman Jewison

Film music can inspire and romance us. It can make emotional statements that a script simply can’t, subvert a plot with a completely different subtext, and inject irony, fear, or humor when there is apparently none on screen. Music can salvage a bad movie and make a good one great.

Great film scores by composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Ennio Morricone, and John Williams have engraved iconic scenes into our collective memory with their extraordinary music, even if the rest of the movie might have faded.

Join popular speaker and concert pianist Rachel Franklin in a series that explores the stories behind some of the greatest film music ever composed. She considers the purpose of a fine score and how it both supports and transforms the film, so we frequently fall in love with the movie through the music.

Over four sessions, view fascinating film clips and discuss the role of the score in each, comparing our responses, and delving into the history and craft behind the composer’s work. Look at the role of the movie director, enjoy some Oscar-winning sounds, and share great movie trivia. Fasten your seatbelts…it’s going to be a fabulous ride!

British-born Franklin has been a featured speaker for organizations including the Library of Congress and heard on NPR, exploring intersections among classical and jazz music, film scores, and the fine arts.

Session Information

Westerns: “A Steppe Is a Steppe!”

So declared the charismatic, Ukrainian-born pianist-composer Dmitri Tiomkin. The Russian word means "a vast, treeless plain," and Tiomkin used his roots to create evocative musical images of America’s wide-open spaces. However, he wasn’t the first. That honor belongs to Aaron Copland, who built an entire compositional language to encapsulate those landscapes sonically. Copland and other sons of immigrants from Eastern Europe created the mighty West in music, but this rip-roaring tradition underwent a massive cultural sea change after the arrival of Italian “Spaghetti” Westerns. In following the history of the Western movie score, we’re observing the history of America itself.

Films include The Red Pony, High Noon, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Additional Sessions

Patron Information

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.